The Third Wave

The stakes are too high for us to die with a small vision. – Louie Giglio

Our team, at Southwest Michigan First, is coming out of some serious strategic planning for 2015 – as I’m sure most of you reading this have done or are in the process of doing as well. During this process, one of my team members asked me, “Is strategic thinking something you are born with or something that you can learn over time?”

I personally believe you are born with a natural ability to think strategically and that you are hardwired to make decisions in a certain way, but these are really two different things. Our friend, Jeff Shinabarger, has a new book out called Yes or No, all about decision making. In the book, Jeff lists the seven ways that people typically make decisions and why they are hardwired to do it that way. Jeff spoke to one of our groups in Atlanta this month and every person in the room identified themselves as one of these seven types of decision makers. Instead of telling you what they are, I’ll instead encourage you to buy the book. You can also take a free online assessment at

But, strategic thinking is a different thing entirely. If strategic planning was an ocean, I am hardwired to think past the second wave while still understanding what the impact to the organization will be, but to go any further than that I either have to use great tools or the advice of other great leaders.

the third wave

We have mentioned Joel Manby, President & CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment, in previous posts, but Joel really helped me with this process through utilizing a specific tool – a matrix that he shared in his book and then modified for our organization regarding how we can strategically cast the vision. This matrix helps me to better see long-term impacts and to better weigh our strategic plans. When we have opportunities to grow our organization, we measure them against this matrix.

Bill Parfet, the chairman of our Board of Directors, is very much a great strategic thinker. Bill is one of those rare people who is both an accountant by training and a storyteller by hardwiring, and he can combine these two things in an amazing way. Bill is uniquely able to guide our organization with both the accountability piece and the big picture strategy – helping us see even further into the ocean. He supports our organization by pushing us forward and challenging us to be better.

To be great, leaders must surround themselves with tools that make them better and with people who analyze their decisions and advance their vision beyond that third wave of leadership that can be really hard to do on your own.

Always Forward.

Question: How do you make decisions? Have you aligned yourself with people that make you a better strategic thinker?


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